It is written:
Revelation 1:1-The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John,
The second key to properly interpreting Revelation deals with understanding the symbolic nature of the Book. Notice that word “signified.”
“Revelation’s imagery is deeper and more visionary than strict literalism allows. Instead of trying to “figure out” Revelation’s images literally, as if they were a code or script for the future, Revelation invites us to enter into its world of vision. The Greek word for what Revelation “shows” or “makes known” in the very first verse of the book is the same verb for “sign” as the signs in John’s Gospel and in Revelation 12. This verse tells us that the whole book is intended not as a slavishly literal kind of showing, but a deeper sign-level. We are invited to go with John on the apocalyptic journey, to experience the book’s transformative power. In order to go on that journey we have to let go of a literalist fixation, and come instead to Revelation with all our senses ready for God’s voice. As Kathleen Norris argues in her commentary on Revelation, “this is a poet’s book, which is probably the best argument for reclaiming it from fundamentalists. It doesn’t tell, it shows, over and over again, its images unfolding, pushing hard against the limits of language and metaphor, engaging the listener in a tale that has the satisfying yet unsettling logic of a dream.”‘” (Barbara R. Rousing, The Rapture Exposed: The Message Of Hope In The Book Of Revelation, 96-97 (Kindle Edition); New York, NY; Basic Books)
Another scholar further explains:
“semaino (4591), “to give a sign, indicate” (sema, “a sign”: cf. Sign, No. 1), “to signify,” is so translated in John 12:33; 18:32; 21:19; Acts 11:28; 25:27; Rev. 1:1, where perhaps the suggestion is that of expressing by signs.¶”. (W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, William White, Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 54941 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson Publishers)
The word “signified” therefore carries with it the idea of the conveying of a message through symbolic or figurative language. The Greek word is used throughout the Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament) and throughout the New Testament with this connotation (cf. Exodus 4:8; 8:23; 13:9; 31:13, 17; Numbers 16:38; Deuteronomy 6:8; 11:18; 13:1-2; 28:46; Joshua 4:6; Judges 6:17; I Samuel 2:34; 14:10; II Kings 19:29; 20:8-9; Isaiah 7:11, 14; 19:20; 20:3; 37:30; 38:7, 22; 55:13; 66:19; Jeremiah 44:29; Ezekiel 4:3; 14:8; 20:12, 2; John 12:33; 18:32).
The symbols are very important, for they point to a literal truth beyond the symbols. Yet if we attempt to make the symbols literal, we do great harm to the text.
It is also helpful to realize here that most of the symbols from the Book of Revelation are derived from the Old Testament Scriptures.
The importance of the Old Testament to the Book of Revelation may be seen in the fact that of the 404 verses in the Book of Revelation, it is estimated that there are at least 348 allusions to the Old Testament throughout. The Apostle John quotes from the Pentateuch 57 times; he quotes from the Hebrew History Books (Joshua-Esther) 11 times; from Psalms and Proverbs 45 times; from the Major Prophets 197 times; and from the Minor Prophets 38 times. If we would better understand the symbolism of the Book of Revelation, we must be careful students of the Old Testament Scriptures.
As Heiser points out:
“One of the reasons we shouldn’t neglect the Old Testament is because we can’t understand the New Testament without it. Every book of the New Testament contains quotations from and allusions to the Old Testament. I’m not talking about mentioning stories, though that happens. New Testament writers articulate theology using the Old Testament. The book of Revelation is a dramatic case in point. No other book in the New Testament is as thoroughly saturated with the Old Testament as the book of Revelation. The book draws upon the Old Testament hundreds of times. While certain books are particularly influential (Daniel, Isaiah, Zechariah, Ezekiel), the apostle John basically considered the entire Old Testament as a source for his book.” (Michael Heiser, The 60 Second Scholar: 100 Insights That Illumine the Bible, 217-218 (Kindle Edition))
Chick Missler found several references to the Old Testament in Revelation:
“And it was Jesus who then “signified it” (rendered it into signs or codes) and sent it by His ( aggelos, messenger) unto His servant John. “Signified,” (, semaino), “to render into signs, codes, or signals,” is from sema, from which we get the term “sememe,” or the basic unit of meaning in communication theory. Each of the signs, or codes, links to other amplifying passages. Deciphering each of the codes in this book will require one to look into every other book of the Bible.There are 404 verses in Revelation, yet they include over 800 allusions from the rest of the Bible! (These have been listed in Appendix C.)”. (Dr. Chuck Missler, Cosmic Codes: Hidden Messages From The Edge Of Eternity: Bible Codes, 5005 (Kindle Edition); Koinonia House)
It is also important to consider that the Book of Revelation also refers to several Jewish apocryphal books.
“Many such Jewish and Christian apocalypses have been studied for millennia, but it was not until the first half of the nineteenth century that this literature was authoritatively identified as a distinct group of writings. 12 This advancement coincided with the discoveries of several ancient Jewish manuscripts and the publication of their critical editions, especially of 1 Enoch and the Ascension of Isaiah. The bulk of these and other works—including some that do not take the form of an apocalypse yet still can be described as apocalyptic because they share constitutive traits of the genre13—were studied and made accessible in English around the turn of the twentieth century by British scholar R. H. Charles, who drew heavily on them in his own scholarship on Revelation. Charles maintained that these sources offer such valuable contextual insight for exegesis that “the New Testament Apocalypse cannot be understood apart from Jewish Apocalyptic literature.” 14 In fact, Charles credited much of his newfound respect for the theological profundity of Revelation to his contextual studies. “The first ground for such a revolution in my attitude to the Book,” Charles explained, “was due to an exhaustive study of Jewish Apocalyptic. The knowledge thereby acquired helped to solve many problems, which could only prove to be hopeless enigmas to scholars unacquainted with this literature.” 15 Charles is not alone in his appreciation for this body of texts and its significance for unlocking Revelation. 16 In the decades that have followed, his contention has come to be shared by many others, including Bauckham, who remarks, “The tradition of apocalyptic literature is the living literary tradition to whose forms and content [John of Patmos] is most indebted.”” (Ben C. Blackwell, John K. Goodrich, and Jason Maston, Reading Revelation in Context: John’s Apocalypse and Second Temple Judaism, 22-23 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)
Specifically, the authors here cited suggest that the following Jewish apocalyptic works are helpful in better interpreting Revelation: the book of Enoch, the Testament of Levi, Fourth Ezra; Second Maccabees; Psalms Of Solomon; Testament Of Adam; the book of Jubilees; The Life Of Adam and Eve; The Damascus Document; and The Apocalypse Of Zephaniah.
With the facts of the structure and the symbolism of Revelation firmly in place, let’s turn our attention now to begin deciphering the mark of the beast. We will quickly see that the mark of the beast is not a vaccine!
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.
Leave a Reply